A new analysis in The BMJ has identified medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the U.S, second only to heart disease and cancer.
Ashish Jha, HGHI Faculty Director and K.T. Li Professor of Health Policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, notes that some may question the accuracy of the analysis' estimates. "It doesn't matter," 'he says,' "because all these numbers are so big. They're a reminder of how big the problem is and how little is being done to address it."
Jha notes that even hospital leadership aren't aware of the scope of the problem. He says, "If you called the CEO of a big hospital and asked, 'How many medical errors did you have last month? How many falls? How many falls that resulted in serious injury?' They won't know."
Jha believes that these findings are an important wake up call for the health care community. They "...illustrate that the policies and practices we're putting in place 'are completely inadequate to the size of the problem we have.'" Yet the problem is also fixable. "We can do this," Jha says. "This is not beyond the creativity and ingenuity of the health care community. We've just got to make it a real priority."